Dobzhansky’s Light of Evolution: A Cliche?

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Huh. They really don’t like evolution.

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Yet they call their publication “Evolution News” It would be like the Republicans having a newsletter called “Democratic News”


Wouldn’t be surprised.

Somebody quoted Dobzhansky inappropriately. Therefore it is always inappropriate to quote Dobzhansky anywhere.

That seems to be what ENV is claiming.

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Amazes me how they obsess over a quote that is clearly hyperbole

A new book on eye evolution!

@NLENTS Have you seen this book?

By the same author:

Dan-Eric Nilsson of Nilsson & Pelger fame. You know, Nilsson D., Pelger S. A pessimistic estimate of the time required for an eye to evolve. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 1994; 256:53-58. Now that’s evolution.

Hi John,

Wasn’t there a later paper though? I wonder which one he is actually referring to in the book.


It is a common feature of human language that we use hyperbole as an intensifier.

For example, a guest invited by a co-worker for a home-cooked meal exclaims, “That is the world’s best cherry pie! I’ve had some great cherry pie before, but this is nothing like it!”

How “literally” should these statements be understood? Has the guest done a comprehensive survey of all of the world’s cherry pie recipes? Has the guest even traveled outside of the USA and sampled representative local cuisines in lands where cherries are grown?

We all recognize this intensification technique at some level. Almost everybody uses hyperbole as a way of emphasizing ideas. Accordingly, it is not hard to determine Dobzhansky’s intended meaning: Evolution is extremely important to understanding biology.

It saddens me greatly that we have to remind people of this fact. Of course, a lot of the people who I’ve heard complain about Dobzhansky’s famous statement are also hyperliteralists when interpreting the Bible (at least, where it is convenient to “over-interpret” hyperliterally.) Some of them will gleefully quote from that ENV article.


What later paper?

I may be thinking of this one:

Yes, but that isn’t the one that usually gets dissed by creationists. Nilsson has published a lot. Is there a point here?

Yes, I know. I am considering the possibility that the author of the EN article made a mistake. :slight_smile:

I truly have no idea what you are talking about.

Fortunately for you, I do have an idea of what I am talking about and am willing to share .:slight_smile:

Quoted in the EN article:

Opening with his 1960s discovery of scallop eyes’ bizarre reflecting mechanism, Land quickly transitions to the evolution of early eyes. Here, he lucidly encapsulates zoologist Dan-Eric Nilsson’s functional synthesis , which links demands such as efficiency of light capture to optical innovations such as elaborations of cell membranes. These innovations underlie four main stages of eye evolution: non-directional, directional, low-resolution and high-resolution vision.

Now, where is “Dan-Eric Nilsson’s functional synthesis” to be found?

The EN response:

Wells wrote back in May (“Eyes in a Twinkling?”) that no such “functional synthesis” was performed. Nilsson and Pelger merely produced a set of drawings that assumed evolution, to try to show how eyes might have evolved. No computer model was produced. No test with real biological organisms or their genes was provided. Other evolutionists, like Richard Dawkins, took the fake-news story and ran with it, never checking what had happened.

Is this a shift to an entirely different Nilsson paper? I am concerned that it might be. As such it would not be any sort of refutation or answer. It would be sloppy writing and the sort of mistake ID should avoid.

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Can we apply this standard both retroactively and proactively to a ID work? If not, I propose ignoring this standard with rebutting ID arguments.

Yes, I think it is. One clue: the quote refers to Nilsson while the DI refers to Nilsson & Pelger.